Gut Rumbles

February 11, 2008

Great moments in my life

Originally published June 29, 2003

My father never played football, but he loved the game and taught me every trick play ever invented. I was playing 12 year-old pony-league ball in a night game on Halloween when we were ahead 7-6 with time running out. I saw the "Sleeper" unfold.

One guy ran into the other team's huddle and TWO GUYS ran out. One went to the bench and the other stayed on the sidelines. I knew what was coming, so I cheated over from by cornerback position to get ready to break for the ball. Sure enough, the quarterback took the snap and threw to the "Sleeper" on the sidelines.

I was moving at the snap, I intercepted the pass and ran it back 60 yards for a touchdown. My daddy told me about that play. I knew what to do.

When I was a senior at Jenkins High School, we played Benedictine Academy and they ran a "muddy huddle" on us. The center broke from the huddle and hunkered down over the ball. The rest of the team broke and lined up on the right hashmark, twenty yards from the center. I ran over there and started yelling, "MUDDY HUDDLE! MUDDY HUDDLE!" and my teammates looked at me as if I were crazy while THEY were lined up in front of that lone center.

The center picked up the ball and "hiked" it twenty yards to a 220 pound running back behind nine blockers. There was nobody but me between him and the goal line. I retreated about 40 yards on the play, fending off blockers and staying on my feet until I got a shot at the runner and took him down on our 20 yard line. We stopped them dead after that and they did not score.

That play should have been a gimme touchdown, but I fucked it up. My daddy taught me that.

Against Groves High School that year, I intercepted a pass and saw a lot of open field in front of me, so I ran as if my ass were on fire toward that orange flag that marked the end zone. The quarterback was a tall, lanky guy who was about to cut me off as I neared my destination. I was one foot off the sideline and I knew that if that big guy hit me, he might knock me out of bounds.

He was closing in around the five yard line. I turned toward HIM, put my head down, racked his ass and carried him into the end zone with me. I never will forget lying on my back in the grass of Grayson Stadium with that quarterback saying, "Whatthefuck?" and seeing the referee signal a touchdown.

When I won the company golf tournament, I did it in a playoff. I stood over a six-foot putt worth the whole enchalada and I could see the dots. About 100 people were watching and I knew as soon as I hit the putt that it was in. I watched it drain and realized that I didn't feel nervous at all.

I am still amazed by that. When I played football, I felt as if every hair on my body was standing up on every play. I played football in full-panic mode. I knew that every play was going to hurt and I wanted to show my coach that I was tough. I stayed in a frenzy physically while I tried to think logically about the game. I was the Monsterman, and I called the defense.

That was my first experience with Cognitive Dissonance.

I once made two free throws in a City Championship basketball game with five seconds left on the clock and my team one point behind.

I was nervous when I did that. I was disgusted when a black lucky bastard fired a half-court shot at the buzzer and hit nothing but net to win the game.

I had to think about what I did. He didn't. Life just ain't fair sometimes.

I've done some good things in 51 years on this planet. The best thing I've ever done is watching cartoons in the living room right now.

Life. It's a hoot, isn't it?

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